There’s only one reasonable response to the IPCC report
One of the unwelcome upshots of this week’s IPCC report summarising the state of the art in climate science is the voices of doom telling us we’re all, well, doomed. We had George Monbiot saying:
Climate campaigners are often accused of not communicating well. We’re too negative or too positive or too hard or too soft. Well, let me tell you, we have tried *everything*. There is no magic formula for defeating industrial lobbyists and public hostility.
— GeorgeMonbiot (@GeorgeMonbiot) October 9, 2018
The one communication formula I have never seen George Monbiot try is deviating from the default activist attitude of “How many times do we have to tell you that we’re right, and you’re wrong, before you get it?” This holier than thou approach has its consequences: climate adaptation is now a target of some purists on the grounds that it is hiding the consequences of carbon emissions. This is both logically tenuous and actually dangerous – if we end up with a refugee crisis because no-one will build flood defences, I guess some of the smugness would fade.
I have a lot of respect for Umair Haque, but this article where he blames ‘inevitable’ climate change on the current capitalist/fascist convergence he sees in the US simply shows his ignorance of climate science (current climate impacts are due to emissions from 50-100 years ago due to lags in the system). But more worrying was the BTL commenter who said she was ‘comforted’ by Haque’s predictions of doom as they resonated with hers. Is there anything more cravenly self-indulgent than a warm feeling about being right about the end of the world?
The doomsayers are wrong. We can all make a difference. Take this week’s announcement from Walker’s that they will be launching a crisp packet recycling system this year. Previously they had committed to recyclable packaging by 2025. Consumers started posting their empty crisp packets back to Walker’s free post address and, lo and behold, the company suddenly found a way to act now. The solution is not perfect, being downcycling rather than true recycling, but the momentum created will impact other producers as well. And it shows what ordinary people can do to accelerate progress.
And we are accelerating. While researching this post, I found an old blog post from 2007 on a prediction that the UK was on track for 5% renewable energy by 2020 against a target of 20%. Last year, 25% of our electricity came from renewables, 20% from nuclear and carbon-intensive coal fell to an all time low of 7%. Target smashed three years early.
My view is we have no choice but to be optimistic. I don’t know whether our actions will be ‘enough’, but there’s only one way to find out. I’m up for it, are you?